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School of Science
Course unit
SCP5071358, A.A. 2018/19

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2018/19

Information on the course unit
Degree course First cycle degree in
SC1156, Degree course structure A.Y. 2014/15, A.Y. 2018/19
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination COLLOID CHEMISTRY
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Chemical Sciences
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge SILVIA GROSS CHIM/03

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses CHIM/03 General and Inorganic Chemistry 6.0

Course unit organization
Period Second semester
Year 1st Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 6.0 48 102.0 No turn

Start of activities 25/02/2019
End of activities 14/06/2019
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2014 course timetable

Examination board
Examination board not defined

Prerequisites: Knowledge of thermodynamics and thermochemistry. Gibbs free energy, enthalpy, entropy. Base knowledge in polymer chemistry. Diffusion and Fick’s laws. Van del Waals interactions. Differential calculus, derivatives and integrals. Fundamental classes for Chemistry, Materials Sciences and Industrial Chemistry, with special reference to the content of the following classes: Mathematics, General and Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry I, Analytical Chemistry I, Physical Chemistry I, Physical Chemistry II, Physics II
Target skills and knowledge: Colloids represent a wide and heterogeneous class of systems, dimensionally located between molecular and macroscopic systems (colloids between 1 nm and 1 m, IUPAC), which is both extremely pervasive and highly relevant, not only from a strictly chemical point of view, but also from a technological, environmental and biological perspective.
This class aims at offering an introduction to colloid and colloidal dispersion chemistry as well as surface and interface chemistry, contextualising what the relevant conditions and parameters are in defining the stability of a colloidal dispersion. This class also intends to discuss the main synthetic and analytical approaches to preparing, functionalising and characterising a colloidal system.
The class is divided into two parts.
Specifically, the first part of the class will be focussed on the models, criteria and conditions necessary to define the stability of a colloidal dispersion, evidencing the complex interaction of various chemical-physical and experimental parameters in determining such stability. Terminology and classification relevant to the field will be introduced based on IUPAC and most established literature. The course will explore the main theories employed in describing colloidal stability, thermodynamics and kinetics in colloidal suspensions, the conditions which lead to destabilising a colloidal dispersion as well as phenomena correlated to colloidal destabilisation (flocculation, coagulation, sedimentation, Ostwald ripening, coalescence, creaming). Particular emphasis will be given to the DLVO theory starting from its basics electrostatic and van der Waals interactions.
The second part of the class will instead be focussed on the aspects related to synthesis, functionalisation, characterisation, applications and use of colloidal dispersions.
The course therefore intends to provide the students with the methodological and theoretical tools to understand the nature and stability of a colloidal system, as well as possible a) experimental and synthetic analytical approaches to obtain a colloidal dispersion, as well as b) analytical approaches to characterise it. The class will furthermore provide the students with knowledge relative to the synthesis of colloidal systems and their potential applications. A correlated objective of the class, which will also be pursued through in-class exercises, is to familiarise the student with the physical values relevant to colloidal systems and their physical meaning (e.g. Hamaker constant, energy value of a typical attraction interaction between colloids, typical surface energy values, typical Debye length values etc.).
Examination methods: Oral examination, lasting between 40 and 60 minutes. Question (60% final mark) on the section relative to theory and models, question (30% final mark) relative to syntheses, question (10% final mark) relative to characterisation and/or relevant definitions,
Assessment criteria: The student will have to prove they have acquired the fundamental notions, provided during the lessons, necessary to understand the nature of a colloidal dispersion and evaluate its stability. Within this framework, the employed evaluation criteria will be the quantitative rigorousness in demonstrations, the terminological rigorousness and propriety, the depth of knowledge in the various subjects, the ability to find correlations between the different subjects explored during the course and to propose, based on the acquired knowledge, possible preparation and investigation strategies for a specific colloidal dispersion.
Course unit contents: Part A: Chemistry, thermodynamics and stability of colloidal systems
• Colloids - the neglected dimension: historical introduction and evolution of the concept of colloid.
• Definition, classification and nature of colloidal dispersions. Relevant physical characteristics of a colloid (shape, size, aggregation, polydispersion, concentration). Lyophilic and lyophobic colloids. Freundlich classification.
• Interaction forces in a colloidal system. Surface and interface physical chemistry and thermodynamics. Surface tension, contact angle, Young’s law. Surface tension, contact angle. Kinetic and thermodynamic stability of colloidal dispersions. Surface chemistry and charge in colloidal systems. IEP, zeta potential. Models for the electrical double layer. Poisson-Boltzmann equation, Debye-Hückel approximation, Gouy-Chapman theory. Debye lenght. Potential determining ions. Interactions among colloids; effect of electrolyte addition. Van der Waals forces and their scaling at macroscopic level. Hamaker constant.
• Kinetic stability and thermodynamics in colloidal dispersions. Surface chemistry and surface charge in colloidal dispersions, electric double layer. Derjaguin-Landau-Vervey- Overbeek (DLVO) theory. Aggregation and destabilisation mechanisms in a colloidal suspension, (flocculation/coagulation, sedimentation, Ostwald ripening, coalescence). Critical coagulation concentration. Coagulation theories. Fuchs stability ratio. Schulze-Hardy rule. Peptisation. Steric stabilisation of colloids. Critical flocculation temperature.
• Amphiphilic molecules and surfactants: definition, nature, types, synthesis, HLB (Hydrophilic-lipophilic balance) parameter. Micelles, micellization thermodynamics (critical micelle concentration, cmc). Association colloids.
• Methods for soft matter modelling.

Part B: synthesis, functionalisation, characterisation and applications
• Pervasiveness of colloids in daily life and industry.
• General strategies for colloid synthesis: dispersion methods and nucleation/growth methods.
• Emulsions, microemulsions, miniemulsions: characteristics, peculiarities, synthetic approaches and applications.
• Further synthetic methods for colloids (seeded growth, nucleation from a solution, laser-assisted methods, sonochemistry etc.).
• Colloid surface functionalisation strategies: identification of functional groups and synthetic approaches.
• Chemical and physical characterisation methodologies for colloidal suspensions and solids isolated from them.
o Scattering theory (basics)
o Static (SDS) and dynamic (DLS) light scattering
o Small (SAXS) and wide (WAXS) X-ray scattering
o Determination of zeta-potential
o Analytical ultracentrifugation
o Characteristics of colloidal particles isolated from a suspension
• Application venues of colloids: food chemistry, cosmetics, environmental chemistry, detergents, catalysis, sensors, nanobiomedicine.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Classroom teaching.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Lesson notes and Powerpoint presentations, papers and reviews suggested by the teacher..
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • P. C. Hiemenenz, R. Rajagopalan, Principles of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. New York: CRC-Marcel Dekker inc., 1997. Consigliato, ma non obbligatorio

Innovative teaching methods: Teaching and learning strategies
  • Problem based learning
  • Case study
  • Interactive lecturing
  • Questioning
  • Use of online videos

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